Tröegs Mad Elf - Tröegs Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Tröegs Mad ElfTröegs Mad Elf

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

1,191 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,191
Hads: 3,582
rAvg: 3.86
pDev: 12.95%
Wants: 213
Gots: 861 | FT: 21
Brewed by:
Tröegs Brewing Company visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: WilliamPhilaPa on 12-14-2002

Hop Bitterness (IBU's) : 15
Color (SRM) : Ruby Red
Availability: Seasonal, 12 oz. & 3L bottles, 1/2 and 1/6 kegs (contact your local retailer to pre-order)
Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Yeast: Spicy Yeast
Pennsylvania Honey West Coast Cherries
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Tröegs Mad Elf Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,191 | Hads: 3,582
Photo of donkeyrunner
2.47/5  rDev -36%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

$6 @ Gulu-Gulu, Salem MA

Arrived at the table a beatiful ruby color but with not even trace amount of foam. I'll assume a bad pour. Came in a big boy glass which was nice because Boston seems to be trending towards even remotely big beers in miniscule pours.

Smelled of light grain and thick, sweet cherry juice. I guess you get what you ask for. Taste is syrupy medicinal cherry with a boozey slickness. Bleh. I couldn't finish it.

For some reason I feel the addition of juniper would greatly improve this beer. Get on that Troegs. Thank you. (547 characters)

Photo of Arbitrator
2.5/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

When I first had this beer, I really hated it and I had trouble finishing the 12oz. This second review is off a bomber -- a generous extra from boatshoes -- and the experience was so different that I felt a re-review was appropriate.

A: Pours a clear reddish amber color with an inch of off-white head. After a few minutes there is almost no trace of carbonation left except for a thin head at the edges. It's not an effervescent brew, that's for sure. I expect much more life out of a BSDA...

S: A nicely pungent aroma of cherries, spicy honey, and some booze. The booze actually makes it smell a little medicinal, like cherry cough syrup.

T: The taste is not bad, though. I guess the honey is all fermented out; it's quite a dry beer, delivering only some light honey flavor but mostly cherry, dark fruit, brown sugar, and spice. A firm alcohol bite in the finish.

M: Light-bodied. It's quite dry. Low carbonation, and a booze bite.

D: Eh... It's ok. I didn't hate it this time, and unlike last time I managed to finish not only 12, but a full 22 oz. It's drinkable, but I won't go after it again. (1,109 characters)

Photo of djmichaelk
2.52/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours a slightly hazy dark amber, with little to no head, and no lacing. Not especially encouraging.

S - Sweet and pretty forward with the cherries. Very much like a typical BSDA, but the cherries are not doing it any favors.

T - The closest I can compare to would be St. Bernardus. It's got that same Belgian spicy yeast, then the cherries really take over. The sweetness is a little cloying. I'm having trouble getting through the glass.

M - Strange. Carbonation is almost too aggressive, making it seem a bit harsh. At the same time, it has such a sweet finish that it almost seems syrupy. I'll give it a pass since they both almost cancel each other out.

O - I wanted to like this, but to be honest it was a struggle to get through the entire beer. I can't say that I'd seek this out again. (834 characters)

Photo of PretzelCity
2.53/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This was my third and final attempt at trying to figure out why people seem to enjoy this beer. That being said it poured a nice copper red into my glass with a one finger white head. The smell was mostly alcohol with a hint of cherry. The taste, for me, was lacking. It says right on the bottle "ale brewed with honey and cherries". Not typically a phrase that leads me to purchase a beer but I've had some great brews that were made with cherries. This is not one of them. The cherry flavor is weak and seems artificial, like Ludens Cough Drops. I know this is not a sour but I'm still underwhelmed. Mouthfeel and drinkability are low due to the medicine/alcohol traits. Overall,the third time wasn't a charm. Although it did get a little better each time it never turned into a good beer. Being from Pennsylvania I did want to like this beer but it seems to me it's all hype. (878 characters)

Photo of ratedz
2.54/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Pours a hazy dark amber with minimal off-white head. The little head that it did have was gone in the matter of seconds and didn't leave any lacing on the glass.

The nose is full of cherries along with a bit of sweetness, which I would assume is from the honey. There is some definite spiciness going on in there too, which gives it a familiar Belgian aroma.

To me, this one tastes like a Belgian ale (a tripel, maybe?) with a splash of cherry syrup. Some sweetness on the back end before the tart cherries and spicy Belgian yest come back in the aftertaste, which lingers for quite some time.

Mouth feel is fairly thick and creamy, which was a bit of a surprise. Very little carbonation combined with the thick body made this feel like cough syrup going down because it coats the inside of your mouth and throat. The lack of carbonation seemed way off from other Belgian ales that I've had.

Drinkability was below average because all I could think about was cough syrup. I'd heard a lot about this one and was looking forward to trying it for the first time, but it certainly didn't live up to the hype. Definitely a disappointment in my book. (1,150 characters)

Photo of Spider889
2.55/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Had on tap at winking Lizard last month, review from notes.

To be honest, this one did not live up to the hype in the slightest. There seems to be a really strong following of this one, but I found it to be lackluster and undesirable for future sessions.

Appearance is a cloudy pinkish red color. Not much in the way of head or lace.

Smelled faintly like a triple - it has that slightly sweet yeasty Belgian character. Other scents: a sour cidery quality, clove, and ginger.

The taste was fairly one dimensional and stunted imo. Tart cherries and an apparent sweetness dominate. Not much in the way of other spices, but ginger once more makes a brief appearance.

Too low on carbonation. In fact, on further retrospection the carbonation was way too low considering that this is a Belgian style ale.

Again, I won't be paying for this again. There's been an increasingly large influx of new Christmas beers every year, and that coupled with the old staples that always wow will ensure that I always have many better options for my seasonal fix. The one bump I do give to drinkability is that the 11% abv was very well hidden considering. (1,141 characters)

Photo of beer1018
2.56/5  rDev -33.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Picked this up because of a recomendation by a friend. 6 pack of bottles poured into a tulip glass.

Small head that keeps a small layer on top for awhile. I would say it is close to ruby red but has allot of brown in it as well.

Smell is all spicy bitter phenols with a touch of cherries and malt.

The first thing i taste is the spicy phenols and some sour cherry. I am not a fan of how spicy this is though. I wish they would have used a diffrent yeast strain for this beer. I also get a unplesent sour taste as well.

Mouthfeel is good as the carbonation isnt to strong.

Drink is low just because i am not a fan of the flavor at this point and dont want to drink more then one.
I am going to celler the rest of my pack and re visit them thorughout the year. Also at over $17 a 6 pack here in Ohio i wishi would have got a single instead. (845 characters)

Photo of largadeer
2.59/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle received from dyan in our latest trade. Thanks.

Appearance: Auburn in color, good clarity, reddish highlights. The head disappears within seconds of pouring, a byproduct of the 11% ABV and cherries I'd guess.

Smell: Fruity, sweet, bready, and a bit yeasty and medicinal. There's a touch of cherry, but it blends in with the malt and yeast.

Taste & mouthfeel: Malty sweetness paired with fairly reigned-in fruity esters. Cherry is evident in the taste but actually well balanced with the malt, more a subtlety than a dominant flavor, lending a mild tartness as well. This tastes like a bastardized Belgian quad. Some spicy phenols appear in the finish. Very medicinal and cough syrup-like. Bitterness is non-existent. Pretty tough to drink, not my favorite Troegs beer by a long stretch. (802 characters)

Photo of korguy123
2.59/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Review from notes 2010 Release

A- Rich copper with deep ruby highlights. A vigorous pour produces nothing but the thinnest ring around the rim of the glass. Lacing is non-existent but the alcohol holds on for dear life.

S- Right off the bat is rich, sweet honey notes followed by bready yeast. Lemon zest and slight coriander. Cherries start to strengthen as the beer warms further. Alcohol is present and gives the beer a fruit cake smell.

T- Warm alcohol and honey upfront with sweet cherries lingering in the back. Almost borderline too sweet. Lemon zest and coriander. Alcohol is a little overwhelming and overpowers most of the flavors. Tart cherry aftertaste.

M- Medium bodied, low carbonation makes it feel slick. Sticky on the lips.

O- The Alcohol is not hidden at all, it's borderline too sweet and just not my thing. Perhaps time will help mellow the alcohol but I'd have to experiment before a re-review. (920 characters)

Photo of bubseymour
2.6/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Appearance - 1 finger head and best that quickly disappears. Clear ruby red hue.

Smell - sweet and fruity. Definitely cherry notes.

Taste - Not as bad as I would have thought for an 11% cherry beer but still too boozy and heavy to really enjoy. Not quite cough syrup but just a tad below it.

Mouthfeel - full bodied

Overall - Sorry, I drainpoured about 1/3 of it. Not completely horrible but also extremely challenging to drink and be refreshed. Basically its a great tasting cough syrup..but unpleasant beer. (513 characters)

Photo of dnrobert24
2.62/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at the Gingerbread Man in Carlisle, PA. Had to see what the hype was about, and I was not impressed. The beer had a dark red hue, with a very thin head that did not retain much aroma. Something mildly fruity was there, like watermelon. The first sip was metallic and stingy. Hot alcohol abounded. Midway through, the fruit came through more predominantly--strawberry mostly, and other juicy red fruits. It reminded me a bit of Juicy Fruit gum. I could not detect the spicy yeastiness normally associated with Belgian-style beers. The pint I had felt a little thin. It was not what I was expecting or hoping for in an American-made Christmas release of a belgian strong dark. (684 characters)

Photo of LuckySevens82
2.63/5  rDev -31.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle courtesy of Dithyramb
Pours a pale, slightly hazy rose color with a small, but well formed white head. Retention is a bit lacking, but the lacing and collar are nice.
Smell is cherries, slight honey, some hops, a bit of caramel, definitely wine like in character, with just a hint of cough syrup.
Taste is a bit bitter up front, with some residual sweetness. Cherry cough drops come to mind. Bitter hops finish this one out. It seriously tastes like Vicks Cherry cough drops. Which I like, but not in my beer. I was hoping that this would be a lot sweeter than it actually is.
Mouthfeel is okay, carbonation is nice, and it's not particularly hard to drink.
Overall, wow, I was really hoping that this would be better. Nevertheless, I'm not very fond of it and I probably won't have much more of it. (817 characters)

Photo of kegger22
2.64/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured a clear red with modest head that dissipated to a collar. The aroma was cheap cherry Kool-Aid. The taste wasn't as bad as the aroma would lead you to expect, but it wasn't very good either. Something my mom would have poured into ice cube trays to make homemade popsicles, 40 years ago. The feel was medium bodied with reasonable carbonation. Drinkability was only decent due to high ABV and questionable taste.

This was a bad idea that went badder (if I may). While not horrible, everything about it screamed artificial, cheap and tawdry. Does Boone's Farm make a cherry? (581 characters)

Photo of seanwhite
2.65/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: Pours with a deep reddish hue, clear, and no lacing to go along with no head and no bubbles.

S: Aroma of green straw and sweet yeast liquor.

T: Surprisingly bland, a flat sweetness but nothing else. It seems to be lacking something.

M: A remarkable waste of honey and cherries if that is what went into this beer. While it is mildly sweet and there is a reddish color I cant think of a more lackluster beer in all categories.

O: The lack of carbonation and any distinguishing characteristic makes this one of the weaker examples of a bomber one can buy. Bottle 2011. (575 characters)

Photo of CraftBeerTastic
2.68/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ba Review #123
Served On: 02/05/2012
Glassware: Plastic Pilsner Glass
Labeled ABV: -
Date/ Code: -

Got this on tap from the Tröegs kiosk at a Hershey Bears game on Super bowl Sunday. Was not expecting this particular offering to be at a hockey game. All I can figure is they are trying to get rid of this season's batch.

Look: The beer was surprisingly clear and was a dark copper with a reddish hue. There was no real head, but a sticky film was present and hung around the entire time.

Smell: I noticed the Belgian yeast esters first. Then some sweet fruitiness. I want to say Lambic qualities - maybe?

Taste: The palate was hit with a medicinal sweetness at first. Then the Belgian funk set in. Things seemed to thin out in the middle with a residual sweetness and a dry finish starting to set in. The alcohol seemed well masked until the end. Also as the beer warmed, I noticed more heat.

This was a good brew. The higher ABV was incorporated very well. This was not like any Belgian Strong I’ve ever had before. Not a real fan of fruit-themed beers. (1,064 characters)

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
2.7/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Uh thanks angrybabboon?

Appearance: Mostly clear brick reddish copper. Heamalt a very dirty white. Bubbly and thick, settles to a small cap and slightly larger bubbly collar. Minimal lacing and carbonation.

Smell: Alcohol, honey, cherry skin and some juicy cherry flesh. Syrupy with some bready caramelized malts. A bit of clover and some sweet malt base. Almost malt syrup sweetness. Cherry juice. Fruit leather. Pretty sweet. Yup.

Taste: Cherry leather fruit syrup with a serious honey drizzle. Sweet, cherry flesh, mildly tannic. Some other vague dark fruit. A touch grassy in the back. Cherry sweetness. Slightly roasted malt with some caramelized malt sweetness. Honey drizzle. Sweet, but not cloying. Borders on it though. Warming amps up booze and honey sweetness. Cherry starts to run medicinal as well. Hyper boozy.

Mouthfeel: A bit syrupy up front and then hits a bit thin on the finish. Moderate carbonation and surprisingly clean.

Overall: Buddy is a better elf.

Sweet cherry fruit leather with honey. Maybe an ounce or two with a bit more refinement. (1,073 characters)

Photo of deathdealer666
2.71/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip.

A deep amber color with no head.

Smells like a penny and sweat. Kind of mineraly.
Not pleasant.

The only geat thing about this beer is you cant taste the cherries. There's a wierd kind of nothingness it.

It really coats your mouth I don't know what it is but it stays with you.

And then there's the booze. You never would of guessed it at first impression, but alas, yes it is 11%. Now I'm gonna go take my kid trick or treating. Half drunk. Thanks for nothing Troegs. (515 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.73/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Reddish copper, emphasis on the red, and as clear as a pealing Christmas bell. The head is beige in color, fluffy in consistency and starts to recede even as I'm pouring. It does leave a little bit of nice lace, but only a fingernail-thin film on top of the beer.

Alcohol is appreciated in the nose, which isn't surprising given the lofty ABV. I'm trying to convince myself that there are cherries in the nose, but I can't quite manage it. I started drinking at an estimated 55 degrees and got quite a bit of alcohol in my first sip. Bear with me while I let it warm a little more...

There's some fruity sweetness, but again, I'm not certain that I can pick out the cherries. The beer is definitely malty and isn't hoppy in the least. Even with warming, alcohol plays too big a role. 'Medicinal', as a previous reviewer stated, gets it about right.

I drink scotch and bourbon (90-100 proof, neat), but I don't appreciate tasting alcohol, at least to this extent, in my beer. In Mad Elf's case, it overpowers the flavor of cherries and honey, which should be quite nice. An even higher ABV can be almost completely hidden in a fuller, richer beer, but this one isn't either of those. The mouthfeel is merely decent.

I really thought I'd like Mad Elf and was looking forward to the entire sixer. That is, until I drank the first one. If I want a good Christmas brew, I'll reach for a Great Lakes Christmas Ale or a Corsendonk Christmas. (1,440 characters)

Photo of GeezLynn
2.74/5  rDev -29%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

2010 bottle

A: Cloudy reddish orange with a soft white head.
S: Sour cherry, orange, Belgian yeast. Fairly nice but a slight vegetal tone.
T: The yeast is very fruity and assertive – apple and pears. Very sweet. Cherry is present midway through, but takes a back seat to the yeast. Finish is sweet and slightly bitter.
M: Moderate, sharp carbonation. Medium body.

Did not enjoy this. Came across as an overly sweet, sub-par tripel. Could have used a stronger cherry presence to offset the sugar. Finishing was somewhat of a chore and not a beer I would drink again. (569 characters)

Photo of rayjay
2.75/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

(From notes)

On tap at the Brickhouse in Harrisburg, PA 12/05. Everybody was talking about it so I had to buy a round; I mean it's the talk of the town when it comes out. Served in a pint glass (obviously a rookie barkeep).

Pours deep red with the smallest of heads. Very sweet and thick. Hints of cherries and wood. Alcohol is obvious. Served very cold, but it only got thicker and flatter as it warmed; a pint is a definate challange. The sweetness and alcohol are a little overpowering and not very balanced. I bet it would be less abrasive and more sophisticated after sitting for a few years. Overall this is nothing more than cough syrup.

Now I get it: it's all the rage because it's so high in alcohol. At $5 a pint I guess it does give you bang for the buck (edit: nevermind, I just saw how expensive the bottles were!!!). Alcohol isn't my priority when ordering beers, though.

This beer is a big mangled wreck. All over the place. Perhaps the only aspect that makes me want to try it again is that it is so over-rated. (1,040 characters)

Photo of Traquairlover
2.77/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12-oz bottle poured into a 22-oz snifter.

A = Deep, clear reddish brown, small head which quickly dissipated, light carbonation bubbles, no real lacing at all.

S = Very sweet smell, the cherries come through but I find the whole presentation a little strong. I can smell the high alcohol and an earthy, yeasty base.

T = Too sweet! Without the light flavor of cherries and honey, I think this would be simply an average copy of a Belgian ale. However, the syrupy taste prevents it from being quite that. I plan to age this to see if it improves it. Perhaps next year this time, I can replace this review with a more positive one.

M = Thick body, somewhat flat.

D = I just found this a little too sweet and overpowering to want to drink much of it or to look forward to drinking it again. (791 characters)

Photo of sacullen
2.77/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

12oz bottle from 2010-2011 bottling, poured into Duvel tulip.

A: Pours amber/red. It is reddish where the glass is widest. Head is almost effervescent, more like a cola, and very quickly dissipates to a crown and leaves no lacing.

S: Spices are at the forefront, while cherries are muted. Smells yeasty like a Belgian. Label uses the wording "subtle cherries", and I have to agree.

T: Not enough cherry for my tastes. Again, the spices from the yeast are the dominant flavor, while the cherries are most noticeable in the finish. Estery and doesn't quite hide the alcohol.

M: Light and lively in the mouth, flavors/aftertaste doesn't linger long.

D: Not a beer I would drink multiples of in one sitting. The beer is almost forgettable.

A friend bought me a sixer for Christmas this year. I've had a couple and think I will hold on to the rest to see what some time does to them. (884 characters)

Photo of SeanRedd
2.77/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Ruby red syrup turns pomegranite booze. No head, low carbonation. Copper oil washes in powdered sugar, giving way to a collage of incoherent flavors. Cherries, plums, honey, and rum clash to create Robitussen. Sweet turned skunked Leffe Blonde. Quite gross. (257 characters)

Photo of neonbrown82
2.8/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

This bottle was provided in trade from GCBrewingCo. It's been a while since the trade, but I figured this one would be better saved for the first snowfall of the year at the very least. It surely has enough staying power at 11% considering that it's the 2004 release, but this beer is quite questionable to say the least.

Pours to a very dark burgandy brown with absolutely no head. I put some serious distance between the bottle and the tulip glass while pouring, but all I got were a few clear air bubbles. Obviously no lacing, and the carbonation couldn't be seen if it were there. This isn't necessarily surprising with such a high ABV brew, but I usually get at least a head-like film.

The nose is absolutely saturated with a raisin and fig aroma with a bit of ginger and/or allspice and cinamon. The cherries are also evident behind all the figs.

The beer tastes like molasses, honey and cherries, with aforementioned spicing. A bit piney even. Not one of my favorite mixtures of flavor. It seems like they took all of the flavors associated with christmas and went overboard trying to cram as much of that shit as they could into a 12 ounce bottle. The results are quite devastating to the tastebuds, and I'm not one to rate a beer well based on style even though I thought it was utter shite.

The mouthfeel is water and distant. What does this "distant" nonsense mean in terms of mouthfeel? Well, I can't seem to taste much of anything but mild sour cherries until I swallow, and then the burst of flavors hits all at once, confusing the palate. The finish is dry and lingers like a port wine, grape flavor and all.

I feel like I've been duped. This is a wine, not a beer! No offense to GCBrewingCo, if he happens to be reading this (I've already thoroughly enjoyed everything else from that trade), but I am not impressed at all by this beer. In fact, this is the type of thing that put me off from holiday beers last year, but I am going to stay the course for this year. (1,996 characters)

Photo of Dithyramb
2.82/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Served on tap per this year's XMas in July at Max's in Baltimore. Poured into a large tulip cup, it was a pale rose colored brew with absolutely no carbonation going on in the brew, no real head. There may have been a slight ring around the edge when it was first served. No lacing.
Smell of cherries soaked in honey
Sorry, but couldn't help but think this was light cherry cough syrup. It even had the same sticky mouthfeel going down. Slight tanin like hop finish. Not fond of this one on tap after it had been sitting a few months. Plus, I'm not overly sure if this is a Belgian strong... (593 characters)

Tröegs Mad Elf from Tröegs Brewing Company
87 out of 100 based on 1,191 ratings.